We are fighters. We are survivors. We are military wives. Michelle Cuthrell speaks at Homefront Celebration
Michelle Cuthrell is no stranger to
deployments and all that comes with it. She was 23 years old, nine months out of college and 11 weeks pregnant with her first child when her husband deployed to Iraq in August 2005. Michelle was able to share with her fellow military
spouses at the Homefront Celebration, hosted by Operation Homefront of Texas and TriWestHealthcare Alliance, words that ring true for all military spouses.
“You were intended to do so much more than simply survive
the challenges that are thrown at you in this military life. You were intended
to thrive because of them.”
The women in attendance took Michelle's words to heart and responded with appreciation for all she had shared by sending their thanks to Operation Homefront of Texas.
“Thank you so much for the wonderful dinner in El Paso. I’ve
never attended one like it. Michelle Cuthrell was a fun speaker. The whole
evening was very special. Sincerely, Lisa
"Thank you so much for the wonderful evening…the guest
speaker, Michelle Cuthrell, was extremely uplifting. I truly appreciate all of you for doing this
and making us feel special… With My Sincere Thanks, Paula Lundy"
"Thank you so much for putting on such a fabulous event…. I
really enjoyed myself and listening to Michelle Cuthrell speak. It was a wonderful
evening bringing so many spouses together! Fondly, Kathy Mingo"
We want to thank TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Michelle Cuthrell, and all of those who make evenings like this possible. The encouragement and support our military families receive enable them to push through the challenges that military life brings.
If you would like to support our Military Families right here in Texas, visit our, "Ways To Give."
Michelle has provided two excerpts of her book that tell her story in such a way that you want to read more. We appreciate her willingness to give back to our military families, several of the women present at the Homefront Celebration received a copy of her book, "Behind the Blue Star Banner". If you would like more information on her book, click here. If you would like to read the reviews on Amazon click here.
“Excerpts from Behind
the Blue Star Banner.”
I didn’t think I would need my armor this quickly.
12 months of deployment, I tucked it away in my storage closet, right
next to the blue star banner and the “Half My Heart is in Iraq”
magnet that used to grace my car.
when I received the news July 26 my husband’s unit would be extended in
Iraq for an additional four months, I realized the cutesy white
welcome home dress and the dainty little tissue I’d stuffed in my purse
just weren’t going to cut it.
If I was going to survive, I’d have to shift gears. And I’d have to do it fast.
One week later, I’m back in my armor and ready to go. Bring on the extension. The warrior has returned.
But not without a few fresh battle wounds.
I fought with the cruise line with which we had booked our September
Hawaii vacation. They offered a partial refund and made me file
an insurance claim to collect the rest.
the insurance company told me they were pretty sure they didn’t cover
military extensions and deployments, even though three different
customer service representatives told me they did when I purchased the
insurance in June.
I told the man on the phone that wasn’t very nice of him, and then, like any mature wife, called my daddy and told on him.
I had to break the news to my husband’s best friend that no, Matt would
now not be home in time to be the best man in his October wedding
— even though CJ had already moved the date of his wedding once to
accommodate my husband’s deployment.
But that’s OK. We only named our child after this man. I’m sure he’ll get over it someday.
spent the rest of Friday afternoon transforming my August calendar into
a grid of scratches and scribbles as I marked off all the events I
had so anticipated in August — from the military ball (and my first hair
up-do appointment in years!) to the medical platoon’s welcome home
course, after dealing with the really big items, I then had to tackle
the minor situations that had arisen from this new extension.
the fact I’d already given my pastor two weeks’ notice at my church job
and now had to figure out the best way to go groveling back. And
the fact I now was completely unprepared to tackle another Alaskan
note: Don’t sell your car extension cords, winter coats or emergency
gas cans at a garage sale the weekend before your husband is supposed
to return from Iraq simply because the Army says you should be changing
stations by October.
might just want them back when you realize that, despite any begging,
pleading or bribing you might do, you are indeed going to be spending
an entire third winter in freezing Fairbanks. By yourself. Without
anyone to go start your car when it’s 40 degrees below zero.
little prom princess in the white welcome home dress just wasn’t able
to handle all these little issues and concerns. But the new warrior
has definitely got it covered.
don’t marry a fighter without a Soldier somewhere inside yourself. It’s
just that we spouses wage war on a different battlefield.
We are Soldiers in our homes, fighting forward as single parents and geographical bachelorettes.
We are Soldiers in our faith, leaning on God completely because we don’t have the strength to do this alone.
we are Soldiers in our marriage, carrying on battle after battle, until
we get the victory of uniting with our loved ones once again.
We do it with a passion, and we do it with persistence, for the spouses we love and the country we, too, serve.
We’re fighters. We’re survivors. We are military wives.
Before my husband deployed to Iraq last August, we engaged in a long conversation about self defense.
I was (and am) afraid of the dark, and he was afraid of the techniques I
might use to ward off perpetrators. I
guess Matt wasn’t convinced that singing “You Are My Sunshine” over and
over again would change a burglar’s mind and transform him into a happy,
helpful person full of sunshine and flowers who didn’t want to take my
money and beat me up.
Matt wanted to buy me a gun. I refused to keep one in our nightstand.
Really, I had no idea how to shoot one and
was pretty sure that if someone broke into my house, I would probably
have to ask him how to pull the trigger in order to fire it, and I
figured at that point, the whole gun scare tactic thing would be pretty
useless. Besides that, I was pregnant and unable
to take shooting classes, and so I found my out and happily rejected my
husband’s kind offer.
That’s when my neighbor bought me a can of Mace to plop in my nightstand drawer instead.
And oh the fun Mace and I have had together.
It’s amazing the things you think you hear at 1 a.m. when your husband is in Iraq and you live in a house all
I had just fallen asleep one night last October when my beagle bolted
from the bed and began barking boisterously
— something Ranger doesn’t often do in the middle of the night. And all
of a sudden, I thought I heard footsteps, too. Then voices.
My heart raced, and for a moment, I fell into complete panic. And then I remembered my Mace — my precious can
of Mace that had guarded my nightstand for two whole months. Yes, tonight Mace would be my saving grace.
But just as I whisked it from its place in my bed-side drawer and stood
back from the door, ready to spray, it
hit me. I had no idea how to spray Mace! I’d never even opened the can
before! If I was going to cause any kind of irritation that would even
give me close to enough time to escape, I’d have to know how and where
to spray the stinking bottle!
So, convinced I was brilliant and quick on my feet, I performed a little test spray. Directly into my eyes.
Of course, at that moment, my nose inflamed, my sight blurred and I began puking all over my bedroom carpet. And
then Ranger did, too.
Blind, itchy and gagging, I felt my way to the bathroom attached to my
bedroom, threw Ranger in the shower and
then jumped in half-clothed myself — continuing to hold the stupid can
of Mace in my left hand just in case my attacker was the persistent type
— and rinsed furiously until we could both calmly breathe again.
If there ever was anyone in my house, he probably laughed so hard at
the sight of a pregnant lady and her dog
crying, screaming and choking together in the shower with a can of Mace
hanging out the curtain that he took pity on us and found some other
more proficient person to burgle.
Needless to say, I banished Mace from the bedroom for a bit. The midnight sun was enough protection for me all
summer long anyway, and I figured that Matt would be home by the time I saw nighttime skies again.
But now with the extension, without a husband home and with darker days
ahead, Mace and I are getting reacquainted.
The difference is that this fall, I have a sticker showing me which way to point the stinking can, just in case
my imaginary friends go boom again in the night.
If you would like to purchase Behind the Blue-Star Banner: A Memoir from the Home Front, click here.